15 Pages

Step- and Foster Families: A Comparison

WithPauline-Irit Erera

A comparison between step-families and foster families seems both logical and long overdue. Foster families are at the same place that step-families were before studies in the late 1970s and the early 1980s revealed that, contrary to what practitioners and researchers had assumed, step-families are a distinct family structure, not just a variation on nuclear families. The literature on foster families reflects a similar bias, reminiscent of early descriptions of step-families as representing the restoration of a two-parent family (Wald, 1981). This article, comparing foster and step-families, shows the structure of the foster family as having, in some respects, much more in common with the step-family than with the nuclear family.